Getting Clinical

Here's me, NOT clinical teaching, in 1999.
Here’s me, NOT clinically teaching, in 1999.

“If you want to lead then you have go to read. “ – Someone, 2015.

I remember hearing someone say this when I was involved in my Principal Preparation Course at the Bastow Institute in 2015. Something at the time that made a lot of sense, especially in relation to the amount of professional reading we were doing as part of that course.

I’ve never been a big ‘professional reader’ and it is safe to say that I’ve dedicated far more time to the Dan Browns and J.K. Rowling’s of the world than the Hattie’s, Fullan’s and Pinks. Although in recent years there has been a considerable shift in that space.

Now recently during one of my leadership meetings we undertook the reading of the attached article below from the Term 3 Edition of School News. The Article, which was a special report, titled ‘Clinical Teaching’ placed a focus on Prof. john Hattie and Dean Field Rickards and their research and work focusing clinical teaching.

In defining clinical teaching; “teachers being able to make evidence based decisions to ensure adjustments and needs of individual learners are made and met.”

Fairly straightforward.

As a leader within a school and after reading an article such as this you begin to make immediate comparisons to your own setting. You celebrate and feel empowered and proud of the work that’s being done and how it links specifically to what is mentioned. On the other hand you also question some practices and think hard about why perhaps certain areas of the curriculum, pedagogy or environment are not at a standard that you (I) believe are where they need to be.

A lot of what Hattie talks about in the article, and it is largely what he is known for, is about teachers having a positive impact and knowing that they are having a positive impact. I’ve embedded a short video below that link to Hattie’s work in this space.


I am a firm believer that within the teaching profession there are so many variables that both dictate and constrain what we do. These are things that determine if as educators we are successful, making an impact, or are deemed to be ‘effective’. My issue with this is as I have mentioned in the past is what does it mean to be effective or successful? Is this my wonderful student achievement data, the fact that I create a safe and welcoming environment day in day out, or that my core focus relates to my students and their wellbeing?

I have not come across too many educators that do not develop deeper understandings of their student’s individual needs. The ability to determine what drives, motivates and also inhibits that particular individual to learn and engage with what is in front of them. The work moving forward I feel for most us is being able to build that capacity in self to transfer that knowledge back in to what is planned and for whom.

One particular comment that was made in the article by Dean. Rickards is that “we need to move away from this culture of one teacher one craft, we want teachers working in teams.” I could not agree more.

The emphasis placed on professional learning teams/communities and the Victorian Department of Educations – Communities of Practice model are now driving a lot more of this collaborative practice. And it can only benefit those within the profession. For those wanting to read another great piece by Richard DuFour based on some of this thinking can be found here: What is a Professional learning Community?

Towards the end of the article it states “Clinical Teaching emphasizes the importance of data, theory, and research in informing interventionist teacher practice.” This drove my thinking about these areas and the work and depth to how they are emphasized and focused upon, and of course, where to next.

I was buoyed in some ways about what the article stated and the work that my setting and staff are engaged in. We have worked hard to become ‘clinical teachers’ and will continue to do so by identifying what works and what doesn’t and it is through doing this work that we will see better results for all of our students on all levels.

You can download, the highlighted version (apologies!)… here: clinicalteaching

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